Earlier this year, I was listening to NPR in the morning and heard Tarentaise (tar-en-tayz) mentioned. Spring Brook Tarentaise. It placed in the “Class 42: Smear Ripened Hard” category of the First Runner Up of the 2013 United States Championship Cheese Contest. I took note because I love this cheese, and I love NPR. It was a good morning and a sign that I need to write about this.

Appearance

You can see this in the photo that aside from the flaking on the rind, it looks firm. This means it’s a bit toothy and a bit creamy.

Tastes Like

Textbook flavors include nuttiness, caramel and earthy. True to form, these are all represented. But there’s more, if you want it.

To begin, this cheese presents potential alarm because it’s made from raw milk. At its worst, raw milk stinks like barnyard, cow poop and almost beef stink. I grew up on a dairy farm. I know this smell very well, and it says home to me. Yet, sometimes, I can get a little too much barnyard.

As you read the liner notes, as it were, you also notice that the milk is from Jersey cows. This milk is incredibly fatty. Translation: “Jersey” is shorthand for naughty, creamy and luxuriant. Everything your mother warned you about…but in a milk. Er…

Raw milk also promises grass. Not smokable but literally, fresh-cut grass. Slightly watermelon-esque, herbal, citrus, yada, yada, yada.

With the lack of pasteurization, this also means it’s better for your gut. If you have no idea why you should give a crap about your gut bacteria, listen to this episode of Radiolab or read Michael Pollen’s new book, Cooked (or listen to this podcast).

Moving on, the word “earthy” here means, to me, cellar. And this is one of the most enchanting powers about food, that it can take something like the damp, dusty smell of a cellar and make it edible, in a really good way. I can’t get enough. It actually tastes like dusty cellar. While I might be developing pica remains to be discovered. Until then, I’ll eat Spring Brook Tarentaise.

Politics

Vermont’s Spring Brook Farms educates kids. Even their website address begins with “farms for kids.” There’s much more on their website on this. It’s important to attend to the politics behind this because it combines doing good while feeding your trap. More and more, food, clothing, everything is political, yes? Also, Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders rocks. He rocks. He should wear a cape. He’s cranky, has bad, crazy-awesome Doc Brown hair, is a freakin’ socialist, is one of the most progressive senators ever and is brilliant. His talking filibuster was so good, it was worthy of printing and binding into a book. I bet he eats Spring Brook Tarentaise by the pound.

This is not exotic cheese but call ahead before you go on a cheese run to your local cheese counter.

 

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